Did you know that your military training and experience could actually be applied toward college credits that can help you earn a college degree? Yes, all the time you spend in military classrooms and in the field can actually put you ahead of the game when it comes to higher education, if you know where to start.
The process for applying your military background to college credit will depend on the policies of the school or university you elect to attend, but most will accept at least some military experience. This means you’ll enjoy a head start and possibly save money by taking fewer courses.
Benefits of Transferring Military Experience to College Credit
Transferring your military experience into college credit can make the goal of earning a college degree a bit easier and is beneficial in many other ways.
For starters, you will save time by enjoying a head start as you pursue your education.
You will take fewer courses, meaning you will enjoy a cost savings on tuition, fees and supplies.
Finally, you will enjoy some additional flexibility and the option of taking classes that interest you and better align with your career goals. If you want some ideas of how to apply your military occupation to similar jobs in the civilian world and how you can prepare through your college education, try using a military skills translator.
How Many Credits Can I Receive for My Military Education?
The number of credits you are eligible to receive for military training and education is supported solely by the American Council on Education (ACE), which provides recommendations to academic institutions on earned college credit for military-connected learners as part of its ACE Military Guide. While most universities and colleges will honor at least some military experience, there is no requirement or guarantee they must accept the credits.
Based on the ACE Military Guide recommendation, the school will decide how many credits it accepts. You could earn credits for your Military Occupational Code (MOC) training, your military job, completed courses, and more.
How to Transfer Your Military Training to College Credit
Veterans, Reservists, and active-duty personnel can start the process of securing college credits by requesting a transcript from your branch of service and then sharing it with your school.
Members of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps or Coast Guard can request a transcript at the Joint Services Transcript (JST) website.
Members of the Air Force or Space Force should submit a request to the Community College of the Air Force’s website and request a transcript be mailed to your school.
How to Maximize Your Military Transfer Credit
There are many options to pursue to ensure you maximize your military transfer credits. For starters, consider schools that are military friendly, and do not enroll until the school confirms what military jobs it will give you credit for. You can get insight on a school’s policy by visiting its website or speaking to advisors or a representative in its on-site Veterans Administration office.
Find a Degree Similar to Your Training
Choosing a degree that is relevant to your training and experience might help you capture more credits from your military experience and training. Review your military-provided transcript and ACE Military Guide recommendations and then consider seeking a degree that is aligned closely with your Military Occupational Code.
Consider Multiple Universities
Remember to consider more than one school, as different institutions may interpret military training differently and can apply credits differently for the same degree program. Also, consider other factors — like financial aid programs, veteran-support programs and offices, graduation rates and more — before making your choice. Also, remember to look out for for-profit schools, some of which target veterans with lofty promises that don’t always lead to a solid education.
When Can’t You Transfer Credits?
Unfortunately, only a select number of ACE-approved credits will actually apply toward core requirements or upper-level course work. The bulk of credits earned by most servicemembers apply only to lower-level degree programs. Again, what is accepted is up to individual schools and your specific degree program. Be sure to get clear answers from the college’s admissions counselor about the school’s policy for accepting ACE credit recommendations before you register for classes.
About The Author
Craig Richardson is a military veteran who started his journalism career while serving in the Navy. Following overseas deployments to the Med and Middle East, including service in Operation Desert Storm, he left for the private sector but continued with journalism. He has worked for several publishers and news organizations over nearly 30 years and continued to cover stories with ties to veterans and military affairs throughout his career.
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